Why ATMs?

Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Why ATMs?

I've noticed that most people here use ATMs when travelling. I've always used credit cards and cash for those that I can't put on the card. Kept most my cash in the in-room safe and travelled with whatever I figured I needed during the day.

I always thought using ATMs was a bit risky. It can get caught in the machine. Other times it may not work for various reasons. Besides doesn't it take time to search for ATM machines around?

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:08 AM
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Because you lose so much money when you change cash.

ATMs are everywhere and less risky than cash.

But do whatever you are comfortable with.

Keith
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:09 AM
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Zizz, I'm not sure where you're getting your cash...if you're going to a bank before you leave the States and taking large amounts of cash, it's certainly more dangerous to be carrying that around on you than looking for an ATM -- which these days are practically everywhere in Western Europe. There are also plenty of horror stories about in-room safes being accessed, so I never leave anything of value in my room, and carry only a moneybelt.

In the 20 years I've had a card, it's gotten stuck once, so I'm thinking with the law of averages, it won't happen there any more than it does here.

Credit cards cost more...pure and simple. Not only do they tack on a certain percentage for overseas usages (like an ATM card, and possibly more unless you shop around), they also charge interest.

Some of us are cash people -- I only use my credit card in emergencies, not as a cash card to buy daily usage items.

ALSO, the more obscure places you go, the more likely you'll find an ATM, but a merchant who won't take credit cards. Yes, even VISA.

To each his own.

Jules
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:14 AM
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I've always used ATMs in Europe and never had a problem. Once an ATM just outside the customs area at CDG wasn't working so I simply asked at the information desk for the location of another one in the airport.

How plentiful they are depends upon where you are -- there is a multitude of ATMs in the larger cities, maybe fewer in small towns but I never had a problem finding one, even in small towns/villages in Switzerland.

What could get caught in the machine? Your card? I've never heard of it happening, but I guess it's a possibility. You could also lose your cash or credit card. It's a matter of convenience and preference.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:19 AM
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Hi Z,

You keep your cash in the in-room safe?

You carry large amounts of cash when you change hotels?

And you think ATMs are risky?

>doesn't it take time to search for ATM machines around?

You could ask at your hotel for the nearest ATM.



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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:34 AM
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Do all ATM's in Europe take all bank cards? I checked with Wells Fargo and they didn't know if I could use my card in Europe.

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:44 AM
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Some credit cards are expensive to use abroad, and aren't accepted everywhere, even for some larger purchases (some hotels/hostels, for example). I use the ATM to get cash, I'd rather not be carrying thousands of dollars in cash on me if I can help it. I've never had a card get caught in the machine, I've had them not work in specific machines, but there has always been another that did work. Stand in a busy street in a major city and do a 360, you'll see at least one ATM, more likely several. Takes little time, probably no more than the extra time using credit cards over cash takes, in sum. But to each his/her own, of course; if you prefer your method, it doesn't hurt me, so go for it.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:45 AM
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Hi Nadoosh,

Look at the back of your card, if it says PLUS, Interlink, Cirrus or Maestro it will work almost everywhere.

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:45 AM
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nadoosh: not all ATMs take all cards, but get one on the big networks (Plus, Star, Visa) and you'll be fine. I haven't seen an ATM that doesn't take those yet.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Zizz- Where do you get the cash you travel with? I assume you are talking about euro, or CHF, or GBP?

For us to compare and explain why ATM's are the better method, we'd need know how you get your local currency.

And to evaluate using charge cards, depends on the international fees or conversion rates you are receiving on your specific card.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:16 AM
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Nadoosh, I've been to Europe twice (from London to Istanbul and many points in between) in the past few years, and used my Wells Fargo cards both times, with no hassles.

Jules
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:30 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the info.

My card does have star and interlink so I am ok.

You guys know more than the bank does!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 07:59 AM
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nadoosh,

If you think Wells Fargo didn't have good info now, wait until you call to aks them for a telephone number you can use from Europe to call them if the card is lost or there are other problems. Expect a long wait while they come up with a non tollfree number that will work from other countries.

While you are talking to them, ask them to note when you will be using the card in Europe, so they will not put a hold on the account when they see the transactions start coming through.

Keith
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 10:14 AM
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<<You guys know more than the bank does!>>

Sad but true
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 10:28 AM
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Has anyone ever heard of a debit card from a credit union that does not have the PLUS or CIRRUS symbol on the back? There are no symbols on the back but a Visa logo on the front. I recently opened a checking/savings account at our credit union. They issued me the (2) debit cards with the Visa logo on the front but no logos on the back. I'm concerned they will not work in Europe for withdrawing cash. I know I can still use them at the stores due to the Visa logo .. but my concern is using them as a debit card to take cash out. Anyone else run into this problem or heard of it?
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 10:36 AM
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katzen-

my credit union issued debit card is the same as yours - Visa logo on the front, but no Plus or Cirrus logo on the back.

I called the credit union before my last trip to find out if they were part of either network, and they told me they were. I had no problem using my card to access cash from ATMs in Europe.

I would suggest you call your credit union to inquire.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:37 PM
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I have no idea how frequently this occurs, but one way your card could get stuck in an ATM is a scam Rick Steves warns about:

"If a bank machine eats your ATM card, see if there's a thin plastic insert with a tongue hanging out that crooks use to extract it." [He said elsewhere you can also use tweezers to get it out.] "A similar scam is to put something sticky in the slot."
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Regarding my previous post, I got curious and googled it. Snopes verifies this as a scam and has some interesting reading on the subject:

http://tinyurl.com/65qs
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Be careful if your ATM card is an "ATM only" card and not also a debit card: ATM only cards that have the PLUS symbol on the back do not, unfortunately, work at all PLUS ATMs in Europe. They will not work in Belgium or Turkey; in England only at Barclay's. Worked OK in Spain and Italy. Bottom line: another poster on another thread confirmed with a Belgian banker that if it's not also a debit card, the "PLUS" symbol may be meaningless.

Happy spending!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 12:31 AM
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We have had occasional difficulty finding Cirrus and Mastercard ATMs in various parts of Europe, but never Visa. Visa ATMs seem to be everywhere!
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